The Ultimate Cure for the Back to Work Blues
Just the medicine you need to stop dreading the workweek ahead
There’s nothing quite like that feeling on a Friday when you’ve got big plans for the weekend.
Whether you are heading out to the beach or spending time with family, you just can’t wait for the clock to hit 5:00 p.m.
And yet, no matter how many Coronas you throw back after you get off of work, the weekend never seems to be long enough.
Before you know it, it’s 2pm on Sunday and “weekend mode” is all but over.
Slowly but surely, you start thinking about going back to work tomorrow and that ever so familiar wave of depression crashes over you as it does every week.
This symptom, commonly know as the Back to Work Blues, can sometimes be a minor annoyance, like a playful puppy biting your hand.
But other times, the overwhelming anxiety of spending another minute at work can be just as traumatic as swimming in open waters with great white sharks.
So, Why Does This Happen?
Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and author of the award winning book, Man’s Search for Meaning, was one of the most prolific students and philosophers of what it takes to live a meaningful life — regardless of the circumstances (like surviving in a concentration camp as Frankl did).
In his book, Frankl describes this 21st century disease of the Back to Work Blues in what he refers to as Sunday Neurosis.
Sunday Neurosis is a type of depression which afflicts people who have become aware of the lack of content in their lives.
This would happen in concentration camps when prisoners mentally gave up on their chances of survival. They lost all hope, and like clockwork, would die within days.
While we thankfully don’t live in such dire times today, this same phenomenon happens to us all the time.
We rush around all week not taking a second to stop and think about our lives. Then, when it’s all over, that familiar void within us creeps in.
We realize that everything we are busy working for, isn’t even what we want. For some reason, however, we are still stuck in this neverending trap.
Thankfully it’s not all doom and gloom — there are some easy ways to cure this common disease.
The Quick Fix
Ed Mitchell, an astronaut, was one of the first people to see the earth from outer space. After returning home, he commented on his experience:
“In outer space, you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.”
Mitchell got the rare opportunity to truly see things from the bigger picture, he saw the world from 1,200 miles in the sky. This type of perspective is not only good for international politics, but can also be a very effective remedy for the Back to Work Blues.
While you and I can’t exactly hop on the next space shuttle, we can still use the same type of exercise to gain some perspective.
One of the best recommendations that Frankl recommends is to simply volunteer on the weekends.
Volunteering can provide you what outer space provided Mitchell — perspective. The basic process of helping others or a cause bigger than yourself, helps put your situation into perspective.
I recently met a gentleman in his mid-30s who was completely lost in his career 2 years ago. He had spent his last 10 years working in an industry that he wasn’t passionate about. So one day, he decided to throw in the towel and reinvent himself.
He decided to take an entire year off to volunteer with local non-profits. Through all the different agencies and organizations he spent his time with, he was able to pull himself out of his career funk and get a much clearer idea of what he wants to do.
While volunteering can help you get out of a funk in the short term, it’s only putting a band-aid on the issue. You need to cure the disease, not just treat the symptom.
A Long-Term Solution
If you don’t know what your ultimate outcome in life is, then you won’t have a reason for going forward.
That’s why one of the most powerful cures you can build long term is to have an end in sight.
To quote Frankl:
“A man who could not see the end of his ‘provisional existence’ was not able to aim at an ultimate goal in life. He ceased living for the future.”
Simon Sinek describes this concept even more in depth in his book, Start With Why. It’s not about how or what you do that matters, but why.
If there is not an end in sight, you will lose progress.
So think to yourself: do you have an end in sight at work? What are your goals?
By clearly defining where you are going you are able to withstand any obstacle or setback that comes your way or you are able to change directions if you’re not on the right path in the first place.
Set Yourself Up for Success
I vividly remember those Sundays where I suffered relentlessly through the Back to Work Blues. I would dread going into work on Monday and try to distract myself as much as possible so I wouldn’t think about it.
While I didn’t know about the quick fix strategy, I started to build out my long-term outcomes. I began to define my goals and get clarity on what I truly wanted out of my career.
Through all of this, I realized that I wasn’t alone — people everywhere were going through the same struggles that I was.
So, I put together the tools and resources I used to help me start looking forward to Mondays again into a complete toolkit to give people these same long-term strategies in easy-to-use templates. You can grab your copy of The Success Toolkit below, completely free.